The Moral Cowardice of Cis Men

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Every time a trans woman makes news for any reason whatsoever, the rest of us endure a wave of cisgender* men declaring that she (and we) aren’t dateable. That women who are trans are sexually repulsive. It doesn’t matter why that woman is on TV, social media, or in the papers. It happens literally every time.

*cisgender, cis for short, means someone who was assigned the correct gender at birth. That is, someone who isn’t transgender.

Following close is always the declaration that these men aren’t “transphobic*” because they don’t care if we live our lives. Aren’t they allowed to have a “preference?” They just find us inherently repulsive and that’s not something they can help. Since they don’t want us dead and don’t actually wish specific harm on us … they can’t possibly be transphobic.

*transphobic means maintaining an irrational general aversion to transgender people.

And the thing is, they certainly are transphobic. It’s not the end of the world. I get it. You have been taught attitudes and ideas about gender (just like I have!) that you can’t really do anything much about now that you’re an adult. They just form some part of the stew that contains your libido and your ideas about attractiveness and acceptability.

I don’t insist that every cis guy in the world admit that he wants to fuck me. (Although in my experience a lot more of you do than are willing to let on publicly.) If I was on the market, I’d only date trans people. I find a lot of cis people attractive but y’all don’t have your shit together. At 43 I’m just not interested in being with someone that I have to teach how to be decent.

I do insist that you be honest about your reasons. You’re worried people will think you are gay. Or you’re worried you’ll feel kinda gay. Or you have some traditionally essentialist ideas about gender. Or you just think there is something “different” about us: Even if you literally can’t tell the difference without us telling you outright — you still feel like you need to know.

That’s all transphobia.

Don’t flinch. I don’t actually think it makes you an evil person. You just have some problematic attitudes about sex, and hey welcome to the human race.

You are allowed to chose your partners for any reason and under any circumstances because consent cannot be compromised.

But it’s not up to trans people to pretend that your reasons aren’t transphobic. It’s not up to us to coddle you by making extra sure that you don’t accidentally find us attractive, approach us, touch us, or have sex with us. We are not violating consent when we don’t provide you with a copy of our original birth certificate on the first date.

And about that first date: Your weird paranoid fantasy about “accidentally” getting with a trans woman is just that. Paranoid fantasy. I feel confident predicting that this isn’t going to happen to you. There are so few of us and we are so scared. We do a pretty good job screening for assholes.

The reality is that many of you go on dates with and have great sex with women who you knew were trans from the beginning. You cruelly insist on keeping those relationships secret. Because of your fear of being considered gay and your embarrassment about your attraction … you tend to harm us after you get what you want. Sometimes you just kill us and pretend you didn’t know we were trans.

That’s the reality. It isn’t a fantasy out of a Kinks song. It’s the actual experience of almost all women who are trans who find themselves trying to date men. You are scary as hell, and your attitudes about us, even the unspoken ones, make you dangerous.

Yet, when trans women are in the news we don’t talk about this reality. We don’t talk about the real experience of violence that we have at the hands of cis men who want to fuck us. We talk about this weird fairy tale that consumes those men. The one where somehow they meet, date, and fuck a woman and only find out later that she is trans and are therefore forced by sheer outrage to harm her.

As usual, it is male neurosis that must always be given top priority since it is so easily weaponized.

We even excuse men for openly declaring that they’d kill one of us after fucking us. That’s a normal occurrence! People don’t much bat an eye at it, and the general response is “hey, that’s a little extreme but I get what you mean.”

Of course this provides the excuse for the men who eventually do murder women that they knew full well were trans the entire time. As long as the public sees us as liars and “traps” we are just getting what we deserve. Or suffering the consequences of our reckless need to be loved and wanted as human women.

It’s understandable that he’d freak out about that, right? He just fucked the most repulsive thing anyone can think of, why wouldn’t she expect to be harmed? Obviously murder is real bad, but what else did she expect?

I can’t count how many times I’ve looked on while folks talked just like that. Right in front of me.

What’s extra fun is how aware I am that men find me attractive. Men of all kinds, even men who can definitely tell I’m trans. On one level, this is terrifying. What if one of them decides to do or say something? And then decides to harm me?

But mostly I just see a bunch of pathetic cis men who struggle heavily with their trans attraction. They don’t know what to do about it. They’re afraid they’ll be made fun of or even harmed if folks know. And these cowardly men, as usual, are not doing one thing to fix that problem for themselves. Their fear makes them violent.

Meanwhile, I’m out here living. Maybe one day, thanks to the efforts of some incredible, bold, beautiful trans female activists, the stigma will be lifted and you won’t be embarrassed to date one of us or feel like you have to harm us to prove something about your manhood.

As usual, it’s on women to fix men.

You’re welcome, guys.

Written by

Advocate at ACLU of Indiana - she/hers - Opinions are my own and not my employer's.

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